Morgridge Academy

Summer Camp for Chronically-Ill Children

Chronically Ill Students Take to the Air to Learn about Gravity and Health

Nearly every child dreams about flying through the air. At the fifth annual Morgridge Academy Summer Camp, 35 students with chronic illnesses learned about gravity … and how to defy it.

Morgridge Academy is a free K-8 school for chronically ill children located on the National Jewish Health campus. Both sessions of the 2017 summer camp focused on the science of flight. The students learned not only how airplanes and rockets escape earth’s gravitational pull, but also how to use their own strength to defy gravity. Physical education teacher Jim Gianvito, MA, challenged the students to a ninja warrior-style workout. Calling on their own strength and knowledge of breath control, the kids took to the playground to see who could stay off the ground and complete the most number of obstacles.

The next challenge put their construction skills to the test as they launched airplanes made from balsa wood and paper. Jennifer McCullough, MA, director of education at Morgridge Academy, explained that the students used both math and science to learn about gravity, drag, thrust and lift.

“The students built planes and tested them in three different locations so that they could see how different design elements affected the flight distance of each plane,” McCullough said.

This and other activities such as reading buddies and math intervention, allowed the students to improve their academics over the summer. The “Ninja Warrior” competition and regular time in the indoor pool kept exercise fun for the kids, while helping them maintain the physical health they gained throughout the school year.

While at camp, the students also received a healthy breakfast and lunch every day and maintained the school garden, taking home fresh produce for their families to enjoy.